The chest pass is ubiquitous in netball – used accurately, it is the quickest and most efficient way of getting a ball from one place to another. If your team can chest pass at lightning pace, then there is great opportunity to tie up the opposition players without them getting anywhere near anyone with the ball.
Advantageous? Oh yes.
As with many of the techniques used in netball (and indeed in any sport), it is important to practice passing enough so that the action itself becomes second nature: thinking about what you’re doing is rarely an option in a game situation.
Your hands should form a W behind the netball with the thumbs together and the forefingers and other fingers holding the ball, always keep it close to your chest. The ball’s destination, you, and the ball itself should for as straight a line as possible.
Your feet should be in a position that will give you the best balance and opportunity to step “through” the shot (see later) – keeping your feet shoulder distance apart and bending your knees slightly usually provides the best balance and helps prepare for quick cat-like movements. Knowing where to pass to is a huge problem for newer players, but tips on that are out of the scope of this article and must be left for another time.
As you prepare to pass the ball, keep your eyes on the destination. Step forward with either leg and, using your elbows, push through the ball in the desired direction. As you’re stepping forward, try and use the momentum you gain from the ground to add extra power to the pass – the faster the ball travels, the less likely it is to be intercepted by an active opposing player. Of course, if your fellow player is only two or three metres away, then unleashing a pass with the power of Thor Himself will probably lead to broken fingers. Practice will enable you to bound gleefully along that fine line between interception and snapped bones.
Keep pushing the ball and at the point of maximum power, release it – keep following through the ball with your whole body. Hopefully, it should trace a smooth path through to the point at which you aimed it without bouncing. Use your stepping motion as a start to your next run.
Staple skills such as the chest pass may seem simple, but getting them right – and minimising unforced mistakes – can mean the difference between a great win and ignominious defeat. Practice, practice, practice and practice some more.
- Netball (Know The Game) – by All England Netball Association